12 December 2006

Montana Tech: another Butte secret

"We're not the School of Mines, damnit!" That's often my response to Montana kids (and parents) who believe that Tech is merely a mining engineering school.

I am with the communication program, but Tech also has exemplary programs in fields such as chemistry, environmental engineering, computer science, and general engineering. My program is Technical Communication--meaning that students learn everything from how to write a scientific paper, to how to design a website, to how to make a documentary film. They also learn the social context of their craft; as Mcluhan said, "The medium is the message." We are small group of six diverse faculty, and our interests range from environmental communication to historic preservation. See Montana Tech's Wikipedia entry in the links section.

At Montana Tech, classes are small and faculty have a lot of direct contact with (and interest in) students. This means that from freshman year on students know their faculty. Students have tremendous opportunities to work directly with faculty on research projects and community outreach.

Think of Montana Tech as a Liberal Arts college with a technical focus and cheap tuition. Sort of a public school version of Harvey Mudd. Without the LA traffic and air pollution. And with superb outdoor recreation: trout fishing, wild rivers, backcountry skiing, Alpine ski areas with no lift lines, a northern Rocky Mountain wilderness at our backdoor... Butte is one of the sunniest cities in the northern Rockies, and on most days you can see four mountain ranges from town: the Pintler Wilderness (50 miles to the west); the Highlands (15 miles to the south); the Pioneers (75 miles to the southwest); and the Tobacco Roots (75 miles to the southeast). The Continental Divide (aka the "East Ridge") runs along the edge of town.

The view looking west from Butte.

Of course, I think of my department as especially good -- see the student-designed departmental website at http://www.mtech.edu/hss/ptc/tc/media/ptc.htm. Our students have gone on to a wide range of careers including film, journalism, web design, software documentation, and technical writing. We have an elegant professional website designed by faculty, but unfortunately the institution recently redesigned its website and "they" seemed to have wiped out all the links to our department site. Shit happens (I'll talk about an academic's frustration with administrators some other time!).

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